Ketchup Car

Ford collaborates with condiment company Heinz to turn tomato waste into car parts.

Joseph Rivas, Columnist

The fairly recent adoption of bioplastics in the motor industry and its use in utensils has opened the doors to experimentation that concerns just how far bioplastics can go and what their limits are. One such experiment is Ford’s collaboration with Heinz and their work in using tomato waste to create lighter, sustainable, less expensive car parts that don’t sacrifice safety or durability. Other car manufacturers such as Mazda have also used bioplastics in interior parts in an effort to cut petroleum dependence, reduce CO2 emissions, and lower the overall body weight of the car.

The purpose and idea behind using or switching to bioplastics is centered around environmental sustainability and a more efficient manufacturing process. This allows for  more affordability and the lessening of negative environmental effects, such as oceanic and air pollution, usually caused by regular plastics. Despite the fact that bioplastics are not the definitive solution to the problem, they are still a great step in the right direction.

Despite the claims made by bioplastic manufacturers and researchers, the environmental impact of bioplastic is currently under debate. Some say it is greener and generally better than normal plastics, while others argue that the environmentally beneficial aspects are uneven and vary greatly from product to product. Those aspects are based on numerous factors, such as how it’s made, what it’s made of, and how it’s disposed of. Information given by bioplastic manufacturers shows that in terms of production cost and energy required to produce bioplastics are more efficient. This is due to the fact that bioplastics require 30% less energy during production compared to conventional plastics and only consumes 80% of the petroleum-based energy of the traditional polyethylene polymers.   

Bioplastics still have a long way to go, but they are showing an extraordinary amount of potential, the technology that was behind disposable forks may be the same technology in your next car and hopefully much more in the future. There’s no telling what bioplastics may be used for next.